Tan's novels have become an instant cause célèbre in multicultural and women's studies, drawing attention to Asian Americans, a racial group often neglected in popular fiction until the success of works such as
- Maxine Hong Kingston's The Woman Warrior and Tripmaster Monkey
- Yoko Kawashima Watkins' So Far from the Bamboo Grove
- Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and James Houston's Farewell to Manzanar
- Laurence Yep's Dragonwings, and
- David Wong Louie's Pang of Love.
Among newer Asian-American colleagues, Tan's personal favorites include:
- Belle Yang's Baba: Odyssey of a Manchurian
- Ben Fong Torres' The Rice Room
- Beth Yahp's Crocodile Fury
- Jessica Hagedorn's Dogeaters
- Gish Jen's Typical American, and
- Gus Lee's Honor and Duty.
Tan accounts for this burst of first-generation American writers by claiming that improved English language skills give voice to the stories that actually belong to immigrant parents like John and Daisy Tan. Book buyers and booksellers alike seem eager to prove Tan correct in assuming that this generation's stories are worth reading.